He had looked at her lips for the duration of their encounter. She moved them towards him in a manner that suggested his mouth was establishing eye contact with hers, although the idea of mouths having eyes disturbed him to some degree. In hindsight he thought he should have said something like, “I’m sorry, but if I kiss your lips, I don’t know that I’ll be able to stop.” which would probably come off as excessively weird and forward unless he explained the whole mouth-eye piece, which would seem just as strange.
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It wasn’t until much later that he realized where he was going. The building in front of him might as well be completely featureless for its lack of personality. A moderately well dressed man sat on the planter near the entrance and surveyed him suspiciously as he approached. No words needed exchanging, just the mutual nods generally resulting from extended eye contact. She was small and wore pastels to cheer herself up, but was somewhat bashful by nature so doubly aware of the attention her clothes drew. He sat in the waiting room and attempted to relax so that she might relax, because increased tension in these situations can compromise outcomes. Once he entered the inner office the receptionist’s nervousness seemed more warranted than he had given her credit. Following the not altogether difficult procedure he left the building the way he came, passing the moderately dressed man, who upon being passed, turned and re-entered the building.
He saw a bar across the street, and lacking many more appointments for the week, walked over and ordered a drink. The bartender regarded him warmly and made conversation about the weather and unremarkable current events. After a few drinks, the bartender put a pack of matches beside the drink and gestured to the back of the room. He picked up the matches, read the instructions on the cover and then walked to the bathroom in the corner. It took a few more minutes than he had anticipated, but he eventually returned to his stool and struck up a conversation with the receptionist from across the street. She had apparently only been in the city for a month and didn’t really know anyone, but for some reason had no problem explaining in detail all the events in her life that had led up to this point.
She had to get up pretty early in the morning every morning. Each morning an exercise in survival of the mundane and the mundane needed to be exercised until she was tired again. Everything needed to be straight and even because without ratio what evidence was there that her life thus far had been equitable. Her children were on track; all their parts moving as they should, a pair of perfectly syllogistic representations of their parentage. Pretty early in the morning indeed if she was to keep pace with rambunctious boilermakers of children. A pox upon disarray in their home of aluminum and white. A pox upon clutter and asymmetry as ratio may be obscured by his peccant organizational tendencies. Put him to paces of penancial landscaping for the duration of the season to teach him the wages of obtusely abject household organizational habits. Plus he uses all the toilet paper and sits the new roll on top of the spindled empty cardboard husk out of some slothful spite designed to send her into a state of perpetual nervous breakdown.
An indulgence here or an indulgence there didn’t really do any harm. The florescent light rack she had installed in the garage for some barely explained art/modeling project was no longer enough. He would figure it out and then make her take it down. William or Ana would fall into it and be covered in carcinogenic phosphorescent death. It wasn’t so much a matter of pride than a matter of sense that was not to be had. The constancy of her ratioed face couldn’t last forever and he would see the way she looked at the new children, not unlike the way she looked at the old lost child, but he hadn’t seen that so was unblissfully unaware of her abysmal thoughts in the faces of her genetic yield. More oblivion was the only means of escape and she had ways of finding it anywhere anymore. Gaze gone dead, she looked ahead and saw the rising sun, the days they pass and more ahead until her day is done.
Sasha sits at a table in Burger King while her two children argue about whose turn it is to get in the ball pit.
Two fire trucks sit in the yard. The front of the house is collapsing due to the still-burning car at the front door. Flames and smoke pour from the backyard as firemen rush to retrieve the living and dead. Several survivors have already been taken to the hospital, but a few girls remain either waiting for an ambulance or being questioned by police. Kelly moves nearer to the house as Jane and Rob bicker back at the car. She approaches one of the detectives on the scene and tells him that she recognizes the burning car as belonging to a friend of hers. The roof has just collapsed causing EMTs to direct their focus on the house. She stands in front of the very distracted detective and continues on about the text messages, pictures and so on. He asks her if she was in this house tonight, or knows the owner. Kelly says, “No” and watches the cop wander away to help several others in breaking up Rob and Jane’s screaming match.
Kelly eventually admits to herself that this trip was all rather pointless. All she really confirmed tonight was that Rob and Jane may really hate each other and that most or all of her friends have been drowned or burned alive. Her options limited, Kelly calls her very tan friend Ian and asks him if he’d like to see her later. It’s at this point that she starts to ask herself why she’s here right now and begins envisioning a nice suburban life with Ian; he, having a well-paying 9 to 5 and she, a successful trainer for a major sports team. To be in the company of people of questionable reputations such as Jane and Sarah has caused Kelly to feel lowered in some way. She reasons that this could be because they aren’t terribly attractive and have no discernible future that she can imagine, but this is only conjecture.
The police are asking Rob questions about any disgruntled employees he may have; his reply is simply, “all of them”. Jane sits on the bumper of an ambulance with her legs crossed, her hands folded neatly on her knee and smiles at Kelly in a way that makes her feel violated. More police cars arrive as body bags pile up in the yard and multiple detectives interview everyone they can find. Ian tells Kelly he’ll call her tomorrow morning, that everything will be alright and that she’s beautiful. She moves closer to her car and is eventually pulled aside for more questions. Any concerns for the people at this house have faded to apathy as Kelly thinks about tomorrow. She needs sleep immediately if she’s going to look presentable. Embers from the fire blow through the air and ignite some of the nearby shrubs which reminds Kelly of Christmas for some reason.
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